Analyzing the stages of urban regeneration in Karşıyaka through family photographs

Karakaş B., Yılmaz E.

International Journal of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, vol.5, no.1, pp.17-36, 2020 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Cities are in constant change, and urban regeneration plays a significant role in changing cities. Although citizens are the major actors and observers of this change, their role is mostly overlooked in macro-historical narrations. The pace of the urban regeneration in particular cities are so fast that this pace has a considerable influence on urban memory. While young citizens have no reminiscent of spaces that exist three decades ago in cities, the elderly dwellers remember them with yearning. Karşıyaka, a district in İzmir, was a town with one-story traditional houses from the 1950s to 1970s. Since the 1970s, Karşıyaka has undergone an urbanization process. Five-story apartment buildings have been built. The population increased with immigration. The city sprawled on the periphery, and squatter housing occurs on the edges of the city. Nowadays, a new urban regeneration trend has started in the city. Five-story buildings built in the 70s are being demolished, and new buildings are made in the same field instead. Squatter houses at the periphery begin to turn into five-story residential blocks with reconstruction permits given by municipality.

Especially for cities that undergo remarkable changes in a short time like Karşıyaka, photographs have become more critical for micro-history and memory. It is a useful source in terms of both being an alternative in historiography and being concrete evidence for facts at the same time. A photograph frames a moment belonging to space and time, which gives information about the history of the physical environment, residential areas, changing structures, and destroyed nature. At the same time, the subject of the photograph could reveal lifestyle, daily practices, and entertainment related to examined space and time. Moreover, it reflects how small dwelling areas are affected by central decisions (Danacıoğlu, 2001, p.90-95).

Therefore, this study is a qualitative inquiry on memories of residents situated in photographs taken in Karşıyaka. It aims at revealing the process of urban regeneration in Karşıyaka, İzmir, from the mid-1960s to the present through oral history and family photographs. The reason why family photographs are chosen to see the change in the city is that panoramic photographs or large-scaled scenes put a distance between the residents and the city, which are two inseparable components. Accordingly, unstructured interviews with subjects of the family photographs were conducted, and their narratives were cross read with academic sources.

Keywords: urban regeneration, memory, photograph, Karşıyaka, İzmir.